Couple stand on deck of a river cruise ship watching the scenery go by
22 November, 20213 minute read

Life on board a river boat - what is it really like?

When you think of a river cruise – what immediately springs to mind? Is it that the cabins and spaces on board will be too small and not comfortable? That perhaps you won’t have much free time to relax or that the food might be a bit hit-and-miss? Or maybe that there isn’t enough to see or do, or that you might feel bored on a river cruise tour.

Titan riverboat cruises couldn’t be further from the above. Our river cruise fans continually tell us how much they enjoy the experience. From breathtaking scenery at every turn to waking up in a new destination every single day, river cruising is for travellers who are looking for a holiday that has it all.

For foodies, there is freshly prepared local cuisine with free-flowing wine and beer at meal times. For culture and history lovers, there are a wealth of fascinating destinations to explore. For those looking to unwind, sit on the sundeck with a good book and learn about the passing scenery via our Voxpox headsets, or wander at leisure when off the ship.

But while we can tell you all the wonderful experiences you can have on a river cruise, you can read first-hand experiences from some of the Titan team - and find out what they really think about river cruising after they went on one themselves.

I was surprised by how exciting it all was. In comparison to adventurous worldwide tours, river cruising is sometimes labelled as a little tame. But I found the whole experience so much fun, from stepping into my very own cabin for the first time (with its floor-to-ceiling Juliet balcony) to seeing the riverbanks pass me by on deck. Plus, each day brought a new adventure with fresh anticipation every day as we approached the next destination.

Yes, definitely! I found river cruising a fantastic way to explore all the cities and towns we visited. Even though the touring is a significant part of river cruising, the excursions and guided tours are done at a leisurely pace and I didn’t feel rushed in any way. And once I got back on board the shop, I always felt relaxed and at peace. And it became a little ritual of mine to go up to the sun deck with a cocktail and to watch the stunning scenery pass by as the sun set.

The guides were so knowledgeable and passionate about the places we visited and were always happy to answer questions. This made the city tours so much more than just a case of ticking off items from a list and getting back on the coach, but also about hearing of the background and the connection each sight had to the city’s history.

I learnt so much about how the countries of Europe have changed hands so many times across the centuries, making the towns along the Rhine a melting pot of cultural and architectural influences. I even bought a book when I got home to find out a bit more. There was always time at the end or in the middle to go and explore those buildings on your own (maybe inside churches or museums) to learn more if you wanted to. Or you could look for souvenirs in the gift shops then just sit and have a coffee, watching the locals go about their day.

Couple exploring stop at shop window to look at a display of wine

No absolutely not. The last Titan river cruise I was on was on MS Serenade 1, sailing along the Danube for my husband’s birthday. The ship was booked to capacity, but it never felt overcrowded. There was always space in the main lounge or up on deck to sit and have a drink, read a book and just relax. The only time we went to our cabins was to change or sleep! In the evenings, in the restaurant there was still room to move around and choose from various tables, too. And always lots of space up on deck with plenty of chairs always available.

People relax on the deck of Titan's River ship, MS Serenade 1

In the evening, there was always some sort of entertainment on the river cruise. I loved the live music and we even had a local folk band who came on board which really gave us an authentic feel to the destination. The dancefloor was always heaving, so it was fantastic to see people really getting in the swing of music! And, of course, the infamous quiz nights - they are so much fun. The most fantastic thing about the activities, is that wherever you go, you will learn more about the places you’re visiting. Once, in Holland, we did clog painting and learned about the history of Keukenhof Gardens. But if you’re not up for it, the library and board games are also a great way to occupy yourselves. There’s definitely something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Food is something I love but I often dread dinner time when travelling, I have food allergies and this can prove tricky with set menus, but not on board our river cruise ships. I was blown away by the attention to detail and the subtly with which my allergies were handled. I never felt like I was just getting the ‘salad’ or the ‘fruit cocktail’ as an alternative, the maitre’d sat with me on day one to understand what I could and couldn’t eat and no matter where in the restaurant I sat he always found me at meal times to check I had a suitable option

Every meal was a feast of the highest standard, not only did the food taste amazing but it was beautifully presented like a work of art and nothing was ever too much trouble for the staff in the restaurant, the wine flowed a plenty. I may have diligently worked my way through the cocktail menu on board (research purposes obviously) I can confirm we have a great selection of brand drinks and superb bar staff willing to mix all your favourites. I was pleasantly surprised by the pricing, too.

I think the thing to remember about a river cruise is that you can be as active or as lazy as you like. You can do the excursions, you can stay on the ship, or you can go off and do your own thing (or a mix of all three!). While we were in Amsterdam, we had a fantastic canal cruise included, but then had a couple of hours to go off and explore – I had a wander around the gorgeous Nine Streets neighbourhood and enjoyed poffertjes (mini pancakes) at a lovely side-street café. And in Rudesheim, I took the cable car up to the Neiderwald Monument, then hiked back down through river-view vineyards, rewarding myself with a Rudesheimer coffee (brandy, coffee and whipped cream) at the bottom.

The ship might be following a set route down the river, but what you do on shore is completely up to you – you can make the holiday exactly what you want. I found it was a really easy way to travel around without the faff of lugging my suitcase between hotels or constantly packing and unpacking.

Image of blog author Ting Dalton

Ting has a serious case of wanderlust. Having travelled to over 40 countries, it’s her mission in life to make her way through her ever-growing list. Her two young sons have also caught the travel bug, and recent trips have seen them making snow angels in Iceland while watching the Northern Lights, as well as walking alongside elephants in South Africa.

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